In the midst of what is considered the sixth global mass extinction, it is more important than ever to conserve the world’s biodiversity.
ZSL’s EDGE of Existence programme highlights and conserves one-of-a-kind species that are on the verge of extinction by safeguarding those that are Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered. These species, such as the Chinese giant salamander, long-beaked echidna, shoebill and Baird's tapir, currently represent some of the longest and most threatened branches of the tree of life.
Scientists from ZSL and beyond highlighted the latest research into conserving the evolutionary history of life on Earth, and discuss how exploring the tree of life can be used effectively to guide conservation decision making. To mark the 10-year anniversary of the EDGE of Existence programme, discover how this mission is achieved in the wild by EDGE Fellows leading pioneering conservation work on their local EDGE species.
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Download agenda and talk abstracts:
- Dr Nisha Owen, EDGE of Existence Programme Manager, ZSL
The evolution of EDGE: incorporating scientific advances into phylogenetically-informed conservation prioritisation
Dr Nisha Owen talk slides (2.19 MB)
Nisha Owen, as the EDGE Programme Manager, oversees all EDGE science, research, conservation and capacity-building initiatives, with the goal of developing the EDGE programme to keep pace with conservation needs in a changing world. Originally the EDGE Conservation Biologist, Nisha has been strongly focused on both the science and conservation aspects of the EDGE programme, from hosting the EDGE scientific prioritisation workshop to teaching on training courses in Kenya, Costa Rica and the Philippines, as well as undertaking project visits to Panama, Seychelles and Tanzania. With a particular interest in biodiversity hotspots, Nisha’s previous work has included the mitigation of conflicts with elephants and tigers in the Western Ghats of India; researching endemic flora and fauna in the Eastern Arc Mountains of Tanzania; conducting rapid biodiversity surveys in Madagascar; and counting jaguars, peccaries and other large mammals in the Amazon.
- Dr James Rosindell, Imperial College London/OneZoom and Yan Wong, Oxford Big Data Institute/OneZoom
Popularising the tree of life
Dr James Rosindell and Dr Yan Wong talk slides (2.19 MB)
James Rosindell is a research fellow and lecturer at Imperial College London where he holds a Natural Environment Research Council independent research fellowship. His area of research interest, biodiversity theory, is focused on the area of intersection between maths, biology and computing. He has published research around models of ecology, evolution, conservation and data-visualisation and has a strong interest in science outreach.
Yan Wong is an evolutionary biologist with wide-ranging expertise including maths, genetics and computing. He worked as a lecturer in evolutionary biology and ecology at the University of Leeds before moving into professional science outreach. As an author, Yan co-authored the Ancestor's Tale (2016) with Richard Dawkins. His work has included presenting on numerous television and radio science shows including the BBC1 prime-time series "Bang goes the theory", BBC learning zone films and 'More or less’ on BBC Radio 4.
James and Yan have collaborated for several years on the OneZoom tree of life explorer project; they are founding trustees together with Luke Harmon on the OneZoom charity.
- Dr Felix Forest, Kew Gardens
Gymnosperms on the EDGE: creating the world’s first phylogenetic prioritisation scheme for plant
Felix Forest is Senior Research Leader at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in charge of the Analytical Methods section, which oversees the operation and development of RBGK’s laboratory facilities. He is a plant evolutionary biologist who worked and studied in three important botanical gardens (Montréal in Canada, Kirstenbosch in South Africa and RBGK) on the systematics of numerous plant groups, in particular Iridaceae, and has a particular interest in South African flora, more specifically the Greater Cape Floristic Region. He is particularly interested in the evolution of pollination and dispersal syndromes, the processes responsible for biodiversity patterns and the biotic and abiotic factors promoting diversification. He is involved in projects assessing the value of phylogenetic diversity measures in conservation planning and he is leading the EDGE-Gymnosperm project.